Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonnel

I picked up a used copy of Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat at a Book Sale for only PhP60.00 (USD1.50). What caught my eye was definitely the cover art by Jonathan Bean .

I opened the book to see if there were more illustrations and was happy enough to see them along the top of each page. The illustration throughout the book wasn’t intrusive. There was just enough to keep the theme going, more would have made it a picture book for younger children. Here’s one of the interior pages (photo courtesy of Jonathan Bean’s website, no copyright infringement intended):


So who’s Emmy? She’s a very good girl. She and her parents used to live above a bookstore that her parents ran, but they became ultra rich overnight when a distant uncle they hadn’t known about left them all his money. They moved in to his big house and Emmy transferred to a better school. That would have been good news right? Not for long. Strangely enough, her parents began taking trips all over the world, leaving Emmy in the care of her nanny, Miss Barmy. In her new school, her classmates and teachers acted like she doesn’t exist most of the time.

This all made Emmy very lonely. Miss Barmy wasn’t someone she could befriend. She always wanted the girl to take weird concoctions, and insisted on her having to see the school guidance counselor regularly like something was wrong with her. And she was just plain weird.

Is there something wrong with Emmy? All school year long she swears she can hear the class rat talk. One day she stayed in the classroom during break time because she didn’t want to feel awkward all by herself in the school yard. And then the Rat started talking to her. Yes, she had a conversation with the Rat, and that was the beginning of a wild adventure. She makes friends, human and otherwise, and she finds out what Miss Barmy is really after.

Yes, there is magic in this story. Not the Harry Potter kind, mind you, but magic nonetheless.

It would be a really nice read for any adult into kid lit, and a wonderful one for young readers aged 9-12. Reading this book reminded me that children’s literature is my first love. Thank you Emmy and Rat for that reminder.

Honors received:

Booklist Editors Choice
Minnesota Book Award for Children's Literature
School Library Journal Best Books of 2007


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The King of Torts by John Grisham

I haven’t read a John Grisham novel in a long time. The last one was probably his non-fiction work, The Innocent Man. More recently, it’s Scottoline whose been supplying me with all the dose of legal thriller I’ve needed. Smile

Photo Nov 24, 8 01 26 PM

I think I was in high school when John Grisham became highly popular. Or at least that was when he got my attention. I remember reading one of his novels and realizing how much I wanted to be a lawyer. It also made me think about the concepts of justice and injustice. But in recent years, I haven’t read much of his work. We no longer troop to the bookstore to get his latest release. I’m not sure why.

Now The King of Torts isn’t like previous Grisham bestsellers that I remember. Instead of being set in the South like his older novels, this one is set in Washington, D.C. The main protagonist is Clay Carter a public defender whose life changed so much in almost like a blink of an eye. In what he thought was a routine preparation for the defense of yet another murder case, he stumbles on something, just what it was he didn’t know exactly. But it changes his life nonetheless.

He takes the word of Max Pace, whose origins he couldn’t determine, and gambles his life on it. In the beginning it pays off. From being penniless, he moves on to become a hotshot lawyer overnight with offices set in prime real estate. From his first case, he moves on to the next big one. His law firm grows, and he is able to make a lot of people happy.

Then the big boys in tort law hear about him so they want him to be part of their circle. This is probably when things started to turn for the young lawyer. He started believing them when they said that in order to make money, he has to spend more money. That’s true yes, but some of those spending were not really necessary. I almost wished he had some sort of diversion, a hobby maybe. If he played any musical instrument, he might have had something else to divert his attention to rather than just always being about work. 

But it wasn’t just the spending that worried me about Clay. I worried about his spirit, how he was losing it. And how he was risking everything he had. And he didn’t even need to. He earned so much money already, he could have literally stopped and retired a happy man already.

Because there was more than one case and hundreds/thousands of clients, the novel didn’t focus on any single one. Rather, it seemed that the novel really sought to educate the reader about tort law and its practice. It’s about how class action lawsuits happen. It’s about how they are won, and who benefits most from them. The lawyers invest in research, in attracting clients, and then in going after the companies. There is no guarantee that the case will be won, but they sign as many clients as they can. The clients themselves don’t stand to get too much money, just enough to compensate them for the inconvenience caused by a defective product. And the lawyers get 20% from each one. So yes it’s a number’s game.

Apparently many law firms in the US have hit jackpot because of this practice. But undoubtedly, many companies probably have gone under for having to pay off each complainant. There is a whole system already in place for cases like this.

As for Clay? In the end he lost his law firm and he had to file for bankruptcy. But life is still good because he had friends willing to help him out. And he still gets the girl in the end. Smile

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

National Book Store Christmas Book Bazaar


Book hunters (bargain or not), the National Book Store is hosting a Christmas Book Bazaar at the Market! Market! on November 26-29.


I may try to check this out, but I have to be serious about buying for others and not just buy for me. Or maybe not buy for me at all. I’ve got way too many books waiting to be read.

But, bargain books are my weakness. So help me, angels! Haha Smile

This set isn’t even marked down, but already I feel like it’s such a steal for a boxed set:

CharlesDickens boxedset

#NBSfinds CHARLES DICKENS COLLECTION BOXED SET by Charles Dickens. Available for P699 in National Book Store.
The boxIncludes: A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Hard Times, Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities.

I feel bad for my wallet, but happy for myself. Haha Smile

All photos and info are from the NBS Facebook Fan Page.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NBS Warehouse Sale

I barely made it to National Bookstore’s Warehouse Sale. On Sunday, there were two minutes left before they shut off the escalator leading to the 4th floor of their Quezon Avenue super branch as I hit the steps huffing and puffing.

The place was a mess, really. There were books and supplies all over the floor. You know that so many bargain hunters have been through the merchandise in the last three days. Since I didn’t have much time left, and considering my back’s condition, I didn’t stop to take photos. I needed all the time I could get to hunt down some books.

Almost as soon as I went in, I knew there was limited stock left. All the good books have likely been taken. But I still went through the tables, and peeked in some boxes. I ended up with 12 books for me and three chipboard albums for my niece Hannah who loves art/craft projects.

For how much? Only PhP1,140.00

I have these to consider for next time:

  • Go as early as possible on the first or second day
  • Spend some time on the supplies section. Plenty of stocking stuffers there.
  • There are nice notebooks on sale too. Grab a few for yourself, and for gifting.
  • Grab a shopping basket with wheels next time.
  • Don’t go along. If your back is still not a 100% well, you’ll need help. By the time I had all these books, my back was screaming in pain. If I wasn’t, I would have explored some more.

Did you make it to the Warehouse sale?